Ex-Evansville nonprofit housing exec pleads guilty to theft

August 26, 2020 GMT

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — The former top executive at a southwestern Indiana nonprofit that provides housing for veterans and homeless families has pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $150,000 from the group.

A federal judge in Evansville accepted Stephanie TenBarge’s guility plea on Monday to three counts of theft. She had been executive director of Evansville-based ECHO Housing Corp. which receives much of its money to develop and run its housing programs from federal and state grants.

A state audit found TenBarge embezzled nearly $147,000 from ECHO Housing and used some of those funds to pay her personal property taxes and for lawn care at her home, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.


Chris Metz, ECHO Housing’s new executive director, said in a statement that the plea agreement “begins the process of providing formal closure to an unfortunate chapter” for the organization.

“On behalf of our clients, we appreciate that the former director has accepted responsibility for her actions,” his statement said in part. “More importantly, this court action affirms a fresh start for our organization that has been underway for more than two years.”

TenBarge will up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts when she’s sentenced Dec. 1. According to her plea agreement, the government will not recommend a fine but will order TenBarge to pay restitution equal to the losses.